2012 NCAA Picks - West: Louisville vs Florida

Posted Mar 24, 2012

Predicting and projecting every NCAA Tournament game - West Region

2012 NCAA Tournament Picks

West Region

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- 2012 Hoops & Helmets, Part 2
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Yeah, yeah, yeah, we're College FOOTBALL News, but like everyone else we're into hoops this time of year. Back by popular demand after a few years off - we used to be pretty good at this - here are all the picks against the spread with a reason why each team should be picked in your bracket. We'll make the picks round by round and we'll keep track as we go.

West Results: Straight Up: 9-7   ATS: 10-6


No. 5 Louisville (29-8) vs. No. 7 Florida (26-10)
Line: Florida -1.5
Why To Pick Louisville: Florida has been the most impressive team in the tournament so far, but Louisville has the most impressive performance with the dominant shocker over Michigan State. It wasn't just a win, its was a stomping with the Cardinals shockingly owning the boards and forcing Spartan turnover after Spartan turnover. Yes, Florida might be playing better, but no team is playing with more confidence or is making as many big plays in key times. The momentum is all on UofL's side after rolling through the Big East tournament; the guards are doing their jobs.
Why To Pick Florida: Bombs away. The Louisville defense has been fantastic, but it's about to get rained on by threes. Florida worked inside more often than not against Marquette, but the gunners took 27 threes and will open things up for an inside presence that's starting to shine at just the right time. The Gators are every bit as active and aggressive on the boards as Louisville has been, and they're connecting in the clutch on the line. Just when it seemed like Marquette was going to make it truly interesting, Florida kept hitting its free throws.
The Pick: Louisville 77-72. Never mess with a streak. Rick Pitino is 6-0 against Billy Donovan all-time with the teacher owning the student. Florida might be better, but Louisville is red-hot and is getting the right combination of good perimeter defense and balanced offense to get Pitino back to the Final Four.
FINAL SCORE: Louisville 72-68


No. 1 Michigan State (29-7) vs. No. 4 Louisville (28-8)
Line: Michigan State -5
Why To Pick Michigan State: The Spartans could destroy the Cardinals on the boards. Louisville isn't a weak team up front, and Gorgui Dieng can get on the glass, but Draymond Green and MSU will be physical from the start. While there were problems getting on the offensive boards against St. Louis, that won't likely be an issue; New Mexico was able to come up with 15 on UofL and stayed alive because of it.
Why To Pick Louisville: The Cardinals have been terrific from the outside. This isn't supposed to be an elite shooting team, but it was red hot against New Mexico from three and could give the Spartans fits by bombing away. The MSU guards haven't been doing a lot of hounding and struggled to force St. Louis into a slew of mistakes. Louisville should win the turnover battle and come up with several fast break points.
The Pick: Michigan State 70-62. Louisville is rolling after the Big East tournament and with two good performances so far in the NCAAs, but MSU is getting all the big baskets at all the right times. Green might not be the star of the tournament yet, but he's proving to be able to come through as the star to work around. Louisville doesn't have Draymond Green.
FINAL SCORE: Louisville 57-44

No. 4 Marquette (27-7) vs. No. 7 Florida (25-10)  Line: Marquette -1.5
Why To Pick Marquette: Marquette isn't Norfolk State. Florida got a second round layup after a strong first round win over Virginia, but Marquette has the inside presence with Jae Crowder to get on the boards and make it a one-and-done offense for the Gators. Florida lives with the three, and the Golden Eagles are able to bother shooters from beyond the arc holding Murray State to a horrible 4-of-21 day from three. Marquette's defense is rolling.
Why To Pick Florida: No team has been more impressive so far. Granted, getting Norfolk State was a break, and Virginia didn't show up, but the Gators have been phenomenal. The offense might get the attention, but it's been the defense that's been dominant, shutting down the Cavaliers cold and never letting the Spartans get in the game from the jump ball. Yes, Marquette can rebound, but it gave up way too many offensive rebounds against the Racers.
The Pick: Florida 74-70. This should be fun. Can Florida's defense keep the Golden Eagle offense down? Billy Donovan appears to have his team locked in with the offense coldly efficient. There's no quit in Marquette and it'll go on a few nice runs, but Florida has been rolling so far and isn't going to slow down offensively.
FINAL SCORE: Florida 68-58


No. 1 Michigan State (28-7) vs. No. 9 St. Louis (26-7) Line: MSU -7
Why To Pick Michigan State: St. Louis might not have the scoring punch to keep up. Michigan State can get the job done inside and out, and while the Billikins are good on the glass, they're not going to outrebound the Spartans. MSU has far more options than Memphis did.
Why To Pick St. Louis: Can the D contain the Michigan State three point shooters? The Spartans didn't exactly bomb away against LIU - they didn't have to - but they're at their best when they're hitting from outside to open things up in the lane. St. Louis did a terrific job against Memphis from outside the arc.
The Pick: Michigan State 76-68. St. Louis is deep, but Michigan State is deeper, stronger, and better. The Spartans will win the rebounding battle and will bang around the Billikin backcourt.
FINAL SCORE: Michigan State 65-61

No. 4 Louisville (27-9) vs. No. 5 New Mexico (28-6)   Line: Louisville -1
Why To Pick New Mexico: Activity. The Lobos were able to handle the aggressive Long Beach frontcourt by hustling and getting to enough key loose balls to stay ahead throughout. New Mexico lost on the boards, but everyone stayed cool and calm under fire. The team played with confidence.
Why To Pick Louisville: Can the Lobos handle the Louisville guard play? The Cardinals got a great game out of Peyton Silva in the win over Davidson and should be better in the backcourt. New Mexico isn't exactly like Davidson, but UofL proved it could handle teams that like to hit the three.
The Pick: Louisville 67-62. The Cardinals will keep the New Mexico outside shooters under wraps and will get better guard play in the clutch. It'll be a nip-and-tuck game for a full 40 minutes.
FINAL SCORE: Louisville 59-56

No. 3 Marquette (26-7) vs. No. 6 Murray State (31-1)  Line: Marquette -5.5
Why To Pick Murray State: The defensive pressure was tremendous against Colorado State, turning up the intensity a few notches when needed. BYU was able to mount a little bit of a comeback against Marquette, and the Warriors should be able to scrap their way into the game if and when it's needed. With this defense, though, there won't be any big deficits.
Why To Pick Marquette: Toughness. BYU got beaten up on the boards 48-33, and while Murray State is good on the glass, it would rather get running and gunning than get into a slugfest. The Golden Eagles weren't perfect in the first round, but when things started to get a bit tight they were able to turn it on.
The Pick: Murray State 74-71. Last team with the ball wins? There will be tremendous momentum swings with each team having its moments when it looks like it's in total control, but in the end Murray State will hit the outside shots needed to move on.
FINAL SCORE: Marquette 62-53

No. 7 Florida (24-10) vs. No. 15 Norfolk State (26-9) Line: Florida -14
Why To Pick Florida: Florida lives by the three, or at least it would like to, and it was able to blow out Virginia without hitting from beyond the arc. How? Rebounding. The Gators seemed to get every key board and they should be able to handle the long Spartans on the inside, and they're not going to go 4-of-23 from three again.
Why To Pick Norfolk State: Inside and out. Norfolk State's win wasn't a fluke; it came up with rebound after rebound while connecting from three. The size will bother the Gators just like it did Missouri, and getting hit with threes won't be an issue. Mizzou was fine from three, like Florida will be, and NSU was able to survive.
The Pick: Florida 78-61. Norfolk State was phenomenal in the first round, but Missouri gagged, too. Florida showed against Virginia it's able to score in a variety of ways, and it won't struggle from three again.
FINAL SCORE: Florida 84-50


No. 14 BYU (25-8) vs. No. 14 Iona (25-7) Line: BYU -2
Why To Pick BYU: Balance. The Cougars are terrific at getting production from several spots with the whole being better than the sum of the parts. They might not have the front-line stars, but the Cougars find ways to win.
Why To Pick Iona: Talent. The Gaels have far more talent than the Cougars and can score in bunches. BYU doesn’t have the go-to guys needed as the game goes on. It’s a solid BYU team, but it doesn’t have enough pop.
The Pick: Iona 78-75. Is Iona this year’s Virginia Commonwealth? It’s an untested team, but it’s full of terrific talent. This will be a great game that’ll come down to the final seconds.

No. 1 Michigan State (27-7) vs. No. 16 LIU-Brooklyn (25-8) Line: Michigan State -20
Why To Pick Michigan State: You don’t have a shot against this Spartan team without being big and strong up front. The Blackbirds are strong, but they’re short. This isn’t a normal Tom Izzo team full of bangers, but it should dominate inside.
Why To Pick LIU-Brooklyn: LIU can D up. No, it might not have the talent to stop Michigan State cold, but it’s an aggressive group that can bother the Spartans from behind the arc. It’s a good enough team to keep it close for a half.
The Pick: Michigan State 81-58. The Spartans will need a few minutes to wake up, and then they’ll roll at will with a big second half run.
FINAL SCORE: Michigan State 89-67

No. 8 Memphis (26-8) vs. No. 9 St. Louis (25-7) Line: Memphis -3
Why To Pick Memphis: This appears to be a Tiger team that gets up for the big games. There were some hiccups along the way, but now that the lights are on, the talent should shine through. MU should own the boards.
Why To Pick St. Louis: Depth. Memphis has decent reserves, but the St. Louis bench is extremely deep. The Tigers are flaky, and while the Billikins might not be as talented, they’re sound and they don’t wear down.
The Pick: Memphis 69-65. This will be a terrific 8/9 game with the St. Louis defense keeping the score down, but the Tiger talent shining through late.
FINAL SCORE: St. Louis 61-54

No. 5 New Mexico (27-6) vs. No. 12 Long Beach State (25-8) Line: New Mexico -4.5
Why To Pick New Mexico: Defense, defense, defense. The Lobos are like you’d think a Steve Alford-led team would be. It’s strong on D and bombs away from three. LBSU can have problems inside, and the Lobos will work inside and out.
Why To Pick Long Beach State: The 49ers can move. This is a balanced team that gets production from everywhere, and has the star guard in Casper Ware needed for the big buckets. The New Mexico defense might be good, but LBSU can find points from a variety of sources.
The Pick: Long Beach State 69-65. The 49ers’ problems on the foul line will keep the game close, and a few timely threes will give New Mexico a shot, but this is the annual 5/12 upset everyone is always looking for.
FINAL SCORE: New Mexico 75-68

No. 4 Louisville (26-9) vs. No. 13 Davidson (25-7) Line: Louisville -7.5
Why To Pick Louisville: The Wildcats can be beaten up. This is a finesse Davidson team that bombs away from deep and gets easy points against teams that don’t hustle defensively, but this is a try-hard Cardinal team that manufactures ways to win.
Why To Pick Davidson: Louisville isn’t very good. The talent level is mediocre and it’s not a good shooting team. If Davidson plays its game and if it doesn’t succumb to the defensive pressure, it should be able to pull off the shocker with threes.
The Pick: Davidson 71-65. Davidson plays the way Rick Pitino teams used to play. The three will come flying from the Wildcats in one of the biggest upsets of the first round.
FINAL SCORE: Louisville 69-62

No. 6 Murray State (30-1) vs. No. 11 Colorado State (20-11) Line: Murray State -3.5
Why To Pick Murray State: Colorado State is the perfect first round opponents for the Racers. The Rams aren’t all that big and live and die by the three. Murray State is great at getting pressure on the outside and won’t be exposed for its lack of bulk.
Why To Pick Colorado State: The three. Colorado State played one of the nation’s toughest schedules and came out alive because it could bomb away. This isn’t a complete team, but if the sharpshooters get hot, they could chuck their way into the second round.
The Pick: Murray State 75-71. This should be fun. Both teams will run, fire from three, and go on tremendous spurts. Murray State guard Isaiah Canaan is always worth the price of admission.
FINAL SCORE: Murray State 58-41

No. 3 Marquette (25-7) vs. No. 14 BYU (26-8)  Line: Marquette -6
Why To Pick BYU: The zone defense that was so strong and so tremendous at shutting down Iona in the comeback should be able to keep the score low. Marquette isn't all that big and could have problems on the boards and with BYU's length.
Why To Pick Marquette: The first half of BYU's Iona game. If Marquette can get running and can force turnovers like Iona was able to do early on, it should be able to come up with a big lead early on. There's a reason the Cougars were down so big.
The Pick: Marquette 74-65. BYU might have been great in the second half, but Iona flat-out choked. The lack of big-time competition throughout the year was a problem. Marquette won't fold.
FINAL SCORE: Marquette 88-68

No. 7 Florida (23-10) vs. No. 10 Virginia (22-9) Line: Florida -3.5
Why To Pick Florida: The three. If Florida is hitting from deep, Virginia might not be able to do anything to keep up. This is a mediocre, try-hard Cavalier team that gets by on hustle and defense, but doesn’t have much in the way of offensive pop.
Why To Pick Virginia: This is the last team Florida would want to face in the first round. Tony Bennett’s defense will bother the Gator three point gunners for a full forty minutes. This is a guard oriented offense that won’t be hurt by the lack of bulk on the inside.
The Pick: Florida 66-62. The Gators will survive, but they’ll have to work for it. They’ll have to work very, very hard for it, and they’re going to have to get through stretches when the three isn’t falling. Talent will win out in the end.
FINAL SCORE: Florida 71-45

No. 2 Missouri (30-4) vs. No. 15 Norfolk State (25-9) Line: Missouri -22
Why To Pick Missouri: The defense. Norfolk State doesn’t score in bunches and it’s a bit mediocre from deep. The Spartans have a star in Kyle O’Quinn, but they won’t get the play from the guards to hold up against the Tiger D.
Why To Pick Norfolk State: Size. Mizzou is vulnerable on the inside and could get wiped off the glass by the long Spartans. NSU needs second chance points, and it should get them from time to time.
The Pick: Missouri 79-63. Norfolk State will bother the Tigers with its size, and then the Mizzou guards will take over and there won’t be an answer.
FINAL SCORE: Norfolk State 86-84